“If you abide in me, and my words abide in you,
ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit
and so prove to be my disciples.”
Last Monday, I wrote about how the church lacked a structure for Christians to regularly meet to solve their problems, something akin to AA. Well, apparently, God is at work because since then I have had three encounters that might be the beginning of something pretty cool. Apparently, God has heard my plea.
The first was with a couple of really good friends. On the surface, things are going well. Once you peek under the exterior, we are having some significant battles that we are losing. What was different is that we started to see a level of trust and sharing that is new. So, something is changing. I think that is God stirring hearts.
The problem, it seems to me, is that we are trying to fight on our own using our own strength. Now, let me clarify that a bit. All these people have been going to the Lord. They all know that apart from Christ, they can do nothing (John 15:5). But what is missing is the body of Christ. Let me rephrase that. What is missing is our honesty within it.
This is why I’m a proponent of home church. I don’t see how we can get people in the “institutionalized church” to lay bare and expose their sin so that they might be healed when it isn’t set up to do that. We have experts who give rehearsed lectures to an audience that goes more out of habit and routine than they do to be made disciples. I know, I know, I’m really critical about this, but it’s true. Everybody puts on a smile and pretends that everything is just fine.
Home church is small. Problems are hard to hide. Now, there are small groups that are better at this than church as usual. You might have heard of an odd group here and there that might has started off as a “life group” through church but keeps going long after the original intent. Sometimes others join. These people bond, much deeper than the typical Sunday-goer. But that bonding is within the small group and stays there because the regular church won’t allow for this type of structure. Wouldn’t it be fair, therefore, to say that it is the small group that is more the church than the one that has the sign in front of the building?
I’ve heard it said by many people who are involved in paraministry that they are fed by the parachurch far beyond that of the traditional church. Many are so bold as to say that the parachurch IS their church! Why might that be? Because parachurch organizations are hands-on. They seem to attract people with a hunger to do more. The love of Christ pushes them outside of the local church boundaries. They are active in sharing the gospel because they see the necessity of it.
Even so, there still is something more that people need. What might that be? I think it is in our dealing with sin. You see, we have a problem with sin, a big problem. I’ve been to many of these parachurch bible studies over the years in which people actually DO share their secret sin. However, we see the same people asking for prayer for the same sin year after year. I’m included in this number, folks, so I am pointing my accusing finger at myself.
Why doesn’t prayer work for this sin? Afterall, this is the sin that eats a person alive. You might not see it from the outside, but internally, that person suffers greatly. So, why don’t we see healing through prayer like with think we should.
Obviously, we’re going about it wrong. Either that or prayer doesn’t work. Or, God doesn’t really mind us sinning. I think the last two are out because prayer DOES work, and God DOES want us to be holy. So, we must be going at it wrong.
That makes sense, and here’s why. Our secret sin is that which we try the hardest to get rid of. Like I have shared before, I have no problem giving up gambling because that isn’t my sin. Gluttony is, and that is the one that causes me all sorts of problems. However, this is also the sin that I commit most in private. Furthermore, I don’t share with people how difficult this sin is for me to manage.
Do you see where I’m going with this? Alcoholics Anonymous works because they expose the problem and call it what it is. That’s their very first step. What do they say at meetings? “Hello, my name is Scott, and I’m an alcoholic.” This is a big deal that cannot be side-stepped. In fact, we Christians should not be surprised at any of this.
John 3:19-21 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”
Yes, I have been deemed innocent in the eyes of God the Father through Jesus’ work on the cross. However, Jesus was quick to point out that even the twelve were evil (Matthew 7:11) and that no one is good (Luke 18:19). Furthermore, even Paul talks about the sin that dwells in him (Romans 7). Let’s face it, folks, I don’t want you to know that I have a secret sin. Yes, the light is shining in my life, but I want to keep that part of me hidden, in the darkness. Why? Because it’s evil. That’s why it is so hard for me to share this with you, because I want to keep it hidden.
So, you see, when I take my secret sin to God, my intention is to keep it hidden from you. Why? Shame. And pride. And fear. I don’t want you to know because I don’t want you to look down on me – and maybe even reject me. Is it any wonder that surveys reveal that 54% of pastors viewed internet pornography within the last year and 30% of those visited within the last month? Yet do you know a single pastor who has exposed his secret from the pulpit?
There is nothing hidden from God’s eyes. And, it seems to me that God fully intends to expose my hidden sin.
Luke 8:16-18 “No one after lighting a lamp covers it with a jar or puts it under a bed, but puts it on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light. For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light. Take care then how you hear, for to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away.”
In context, this passage falls right after Jesus explained to the disciples why he used parables. Remember that? “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom, but for others they are in parables, so that ‘seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.’” (Luke 8:9). Is Jesus talking about the unsaved in Luke 8:16-18, as he seems to be in v. 9? I think so, but he also seems to be talking about the saved as well.
That’s probably why prayer alone doesn’t work for secret sin, because it is a law that secret will be made known. Now, what if I would use the principles that I see in AA to address my sin? I think we might explore this more. For now, let’s wrap today up by concluding that God will frustrate our efforts unless we do it his way. And his way, it seems to me, includes exposing our sin for the benefit of his church. And, it seems to me that God will heal through that church. It also seems to me that we will have to do things much different than what we are used to or comfortable with.
Father, I pray that this message might sink home to all who read it. I really want to conquer my gluttony. Lead me down the path you desire me to take. Amen.
Copyright © 2019 Scott Powers